Naked and Unashamed

In the Garden, “Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” (Genesis 2:25)

We tend to infer from the conversation in Genesis 3 that Adam and Eve were somehow physically unable to see their nakedness.  However, from the Genesis 2:25 language and later understanding that we gain from Bible study, that is not likely the case.  Not so much blinded, but oblivious to what did not matter.

In the perfect environment without storms or snow or burning sun, what need was there for clothes with two people who lived in perfect harmony and love?  They tended the Garden and cared for the animals who were naked, and they had nothing to hide from each other, from the animals, or from God.

TemptationWhat was missing from their knowledge that they could gain from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil?  God had made everything “good” day by day, and in the end “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31)  They knew everything good that was in creation, naming the animals and working the soil to growing delicious food, eating fruit from perfect pear and apple trees.  Now look at the name of the Tree from which Satan tempted them to eat.  What could they learn?  Only evil!

There was something to learn; something which their eyes had not seen yet, in all the “good” that God had made.  But it was not something they would enjoy as much as Satan made it sound: “You will be like God!” (Genesis 3:5)

Don’t you wish you could go back to that setting and yell to Eve, Don’t do it!  It’s a trick!  It’s a lie!  It’s what Lucifer wants to be: like God (Isaiah 14:14), and since he has failed, he wants to pull you and Adam down, too!  He wants to spoil this perfect creation and make it as evil as he is! . . . But we were not there, and likely we would not have understood any better than Eve did.

So she ate and gave to Adam to eat, also, and suddenly they did see things they had not noticed before!  It was as if their eyes were opened for the first time since creation.  In an unconscious sense, they probably knew that they were naked before, but because it did not matter, it did not register in their cognition.  It simply was something they did not think about.  But now, their awareness of their failure to obey a simple command that only required them to trust the benevolent Creator who would visit them every evening brought into sharp focus that there was nothing they could hide!  And NOW they had something that they wanted to hide!

Adam and Eve3How the devil must have laughed and jumped with sadistic glee at the success of his deceit.  He grinned as he saw their futile attempts to sew fig leaves together.  He laughed as he heard the Creator coming to visit them in the Garden.  Because he was without understanding of God’s unbounded mind and ignorant of His eternal plan, he thought he had dealt a terrible blow to God.

Ever since, we have worn clothes.  Every society (with the exception of a few nudist nuts) has required some kind of cover for the body.  Add the mess that came after the flood with snows and rain and hail, and clothes became necessary for most of us most of the time just to survive the damaged environment.  But apart from protection from the weather, we have always worn clothes, and societies have developed complex systems of clothes to express rank and social importance.

Only in the marriage relationship is nudity acceptable (or under a doctor’s care, but that’s for another blog).  We usually marry at 20-30 years old and most of us have accumulated a lot of emotional baggage by then.  How do two flawed people with so many things in their past that they would prefer to hide, stand naked and unashamed?  And what about when we get out of shape or age begins to change how nice things looked on our wedding day?  Can we return to “naked and unashamed” or are we always going to hide until the end of days?

Gift of Sex.jpgIn The Gift of Sex by Penner and Penner, the authors make a case for marriage being a place of safety and exposure.  They note that sexuality is part of God’s plan, not a deviation from it.  “The Bible portrays sex as a symbol of the relationship between God and His people . . . The husband-wife sexual relationship is used throughout Scripture to symbolize the God-man relationship.”  They provide astute advice about body image and how to deal with body issues in a loving, mutually supportive and realistic context that removes the pressure from having to be a beauty-pageant winner or a world-class body builder.

The key of it is their perspective on mutual submission to the Lord of Life.  Jesus restores purity where there once was only shame and disgrace.  Like the father in the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-24) He welcomes us into His family with open arms and forgiveness for all our past; such complete forgiveness as though the sin never happened!

God cannot reverse time and change what you did in the past.  He cannot restore your virginity; He cannot remove the marks left in your mind from rape or immoral behavior; He cannot go back to the Garden of Eden and remove the fruit from Adam’s and Eve’s hands.  What He can do is make you sexually pure again.  He can bring you into His garden of love, grace and forgiveness, and even though you know the difference between good and evil, He can guide you into discovering all that is not just good, but “very good,” again.  You can stand before Him and your spouse, “naked and unashamed.”

For additional understanding see Paul David Tripp’s article here: 10 Things You Should Know About Sex In a Broken World.


The Second Week of Sex

Last week I discussed some of what makes a marriage a marriage as opposed to a business relationship.  The truth is that the love and respect a husband and wife provide each other shows up in all aspects of their life, not just sex.  However, sex is the distinctive that makes the marriage relationship most different from all others.  It is an intertwining of pleasures that is forbidden outside the marriage because that would cause hurt, confusion, distrust and possibly disease.

2018-10-21 Second Week of SexIn Dr. Emerson Eggerichs’ book, Love and Respect, he presents the idea that just as a woman is wired to give and understand love, a man is wired to give and understand respect.  He notes wisely that “the journey to a godly, satisfying marriage is never over.”  This is an ongoing relationship that must be tended much as one would tend a garden.  You cannot pull out weeds and plant seeds once and leave the garden alone for years and expect good crops every fall.  In the same way, a couple cannot say their vows, experience a good relationship at the start of their marriage, and expect it will always continue that way if they never give it attention.

Using the premise of Ephesians 5:33, “each one of you must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband,” he notes that most of us readily agree to the idea that love should be unconditional.  He then says respect should also be unconditional!  Most of us, even men, react against this idea, because we have been trained culturally to think that respect must be earned.  However, that is not necessarily the case.  In the military a person is “respected” because of the number of bars on his/her uniform.  He or she may be a jerk of a person, but we treat them respectfully because of the official position.

Before anyone gets too excited or angry that he is advocating a military style marriage, please rest assured that he balances this with the husband’s responsibility to love his wife.  What Eggerichs finds interesting is that husbands are never told to respect their wives just as wives are never told to love their husbands.  He figures it is because of the way God created each of us, male and female, and wired us to see the world differently.  The “blue hearing aid and blue sunglasses” a husband wears mean that he hears and sees things differently than his wife who wears a “pink hearing aid and sunglasses,” and vice versa.  I will not give a complete book report here, but encourage you, if you find this intriguing, to get a copy of his book and consider what you find in it to be true (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

After dealing with the basic attitudes toward marriage and the need to come back again and again to weed-pulling, seeding, pruning and all the other regular features of gardening, let’s address the sexual union of a husband and wife.  I encourage you to get a copy of The Gift of Sex by Clifford and Joyce Penner to explore their thoughts.  Remember, neither Adam or Eve, nor your husband or wife, came up with the concept of sex.  It was the Creator’s idea and He planned it to be a source of unity, procreation, safety, and pleasure.  “Our maleness and femaleness, our sexuality is not something added on or part of our sinful natures; it is part of the original perfect creation of mankind. The Bible portrays sex as a symbol of the relationship between God and His people.”

This text builds on Eggerichs’ foundation that marriage should effect a mutuality of personalities, not a place for “standing up for my rights.”  The commitment of a godly husband is to be to his wife like Jesus is to the Church; ready and willing to die for her.  Not just in a crisis moment of an assault, but in everyday decisions of how to treat her when you are sitting down to supper, opening the mail, cleaning the house.  It is not an easy thing to die to oneself as Jesus did on the cross, but that is what a husband is called to do; to put aside his wishes and meet his wife’s deepest needs.

In the same way, a wife is not to assert nor usurp authority and hen-peck a husband.  She is to submit to his authority as the Church should do to Christ.  And again, not just in a crisis, but in everyday things like going fishing, helping with the lawn care or walking the dog.  As noted, it is not an easy thing to die to oneself, but that is what a godly wife is called to do; to put aside her wishes and meet her husband’s deepest needs.

Then comes the conundrum! “The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.” (1 Corinthians 7:4)  One wonders if Paul was just setting us up for an argument!  Who is in charge!?  What does a husband do whose wife does not want to have sex?  What does a wife do whose husband wants to have sex all the time?

Paul lays down some guidelines in 1 Corinthians 7, but very little specifics.  That is because every couple is different.  For some, the “limited time” of 1 Corinthians 7:5 may be a couple days or even hours.  For others it may be months or even years.  However, a couple should “come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”  And it should be recognized that such abstinence within a marriage should come from “mutual agreement.”  The gist here is that there is communication in a marriage about sex.  For many, this is as foreign as speaking Latin!

Just as Adam and Eve were “naked and unashamed,” a husband and wife must learn to communicate without shame.  We are supposed to be getting ready for a new Paradise in which there is no shame, and marriage provides one of the best testing grounds to see how well we are preparing. (Not the only one, for sure, as Paul addresses those who are not married as being no less prepared for holiness.)  But for those who are married, consider reading The Gift of Sex by Penner and Penner, and again, see what you find in there to be true (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

Next week, we will discuss a distinctly “guy phenomenon” (mostly) of the temptations of the world, the flesh and the devil.